YouTube recently announced that it will be hiding the dislike counts on videos to promote respectful interactions between viewers and creators. It is an effort to mitigate the issue of viewers using the dislike button to attack creators. YouTube has also addressed that they have already anticipated pushback from the news and predict there will be a “decline” of the platform as a result.
The move by YouTube is optimistic and harmless, and I would even say altruistic. However, by removing the dislike count, it will be less user-friendly. So, here are some pros and cons to consider:
- It will be difficult for users to gauge if the video is potentially bad. A bad video is subjective, but having the dislike count will let you know if you should waste your time on it or not.
- Your home page/feed will be less personalized. For users who use the counts of the “likes” and “dislikes” button to decide whether they want to watch a video, if they do not have anything to compare and they end up watching videos they do not enjoy, the algorithm might put videos they do not like on their page.
- Tutorial videos will be more challenging. Tutorial videos or DIY videos will be causing you to scratch your head because you wouldn’t know how effective or positive the results will be. The counts of the buttons let us know if it’s a good video or not.
- Having the dislike button tells us if the video is valuable or not. If a video has more dislikes than likes, then users are less likely to view it or waste their time with it.
- Stops dislike bombing. Dislike bombing is when there is a coordinated move for people to dislike a video to deter the video from gaining potential viewers. If people cannot see the count, they will be less incentivized to dislike bomb as they will no longer have a reward or outcome from this action.
- Protects content creators. Content creators are often susceptible to scrutiny, but we often forget they’re humans with emotions too. I think the argument that content creators should expect both positive and negative feedback is unhelpful because oftentimes, communication through a screen is more likely than not harassment. What content creators should expect is respectful feedback. The removal of the dislike count will deter people from useless harassment.
- May help with mental health. Platforms that center around likes and dislikes are damaging to mental health. If creators are less likely to experience harassment, then they can use their creative outlet without any collateral damage.
- Smaller content creators have a more level playing field with bigger content creators. Smaller content creators and those that are just started out are usually unfairly targeted by dislike bombing. By removing the count, they will be ridding this aspect of the issue. Plus, now that the counts lean towards reinforcing positivity, creators — no matter how big or small — can have a more equal playing field.
Overall, although I do not have a polarizing opinion about this issue, but YouTube could’ve chosen a better solution. They could have better or stricter moderators. Since they’re also a tech company, they can afford to use better systems that would detect suspicious activity in regards to dislike bombing. I can understand why users may be angry over this decision, but if it protects content creators from harassment, then a mere issue like a number count shouldn’t be a major issue. Besides, users can still comment if they want to share their distaste. So, it isn’t a censorship issue. It may be inconvenient for users, and YouTube could’ve offered a more favorable option, but it’s not that big of a deal.